HOTW - Gugs
There are just some people who are living symbols of what the Herd is about and why it was formed and how it was always meant to be a Trojan Family atmosphere, and Gugs is one of the Herders that epitomizes the Herd spirit. I have the distinct advantage of standing above Gugs and his family in Row 16 of Section 11, and I get to see the Trojan blood flow through him at every game, and I get to watch and appreciate the family and friends that he brings into the Herd section, and how he makes every Herd game a family event. There is nothing more special than being able to share this Trojan experience, and this Herd experience with your family, and Gugs does that to the fullest. His wife and kids are usually with him or his father and/or other relatives, and the whole Gugs family is involved and passionate about Trojan football, and it’s a pleasure to witness at every home game. Plus I also enjoy talking about Chow’s and Kiffen’s playcalling with Gugs, and I appreciate his football knowledge that he shares with me as we criticize and commiserate over the occasional horrible offensive playcalls.
But Gugs has participated with the Herd in more than just bringing his family and friends into the group, he is at almost all away games, sometimes buying extra tickets so Herdmembers without tickets can sit with him, and he’s usually at other Herd events be they basketball and/or baseball games though he lives in the infamous Ventura County. And unlike the old USC message board joke that players from Ventura County never lived up to their billing, Gugs and his family definitely bring down the Trojan spirit and represent the VC very well. When I told Brooks that Gugs was going to be the Herder of the Week, Brooks wrote, “On a personal note, he made me guest in his luxury box for the ASU game two years ago. I don't know if he would want anyone knowing that. I'm not sure I do, but it was a great offer and I appreciated it. Gugs has always been supportive of the Herd. He's been a member since the beginning and has contributed to every cause, and one of the neat things about Gugs is that he brings his family to all the games.” Shorty agreed with that assessment since he also wrote that, “When you 're thinking great Father, loyal Trojan, active Herder and all around good guy, you just think Gugs.”
Gugs has always been a loyal participant in all the Herdgates, but during the 2006 season his family bought an R.V., so we haven’t seen Gugs at the tailgates, though he’s still standing and cheering in Section 11 every game, and that is still the essence of what the Herd is about; enjoying the USC Football experience to the fullest, with family, friends and other Herdmembers, and Gugs is an extreme example of this. That’s why Gugs is this week’s Herder of the Week:
How did you become a USC fan?
The first memory I have of USC was watching the 1974 USC vs. ND game on TV. I was 8 years old and my dad and uncles were together watching the game and another uncle who is a Bruins fan kept calling the house and laughing after every Irish score. We started calling him back in the second half and laughing back at him. Eventually, his phone stayed busy, my aunt said that he ripped it off the wall. I have been a die hard fan ever since.
Tell us how you used to support USC, watch games, etc., before you discovered the Herd.
I started going to games pretty regularly in the late 70’s, Charles White is still my all-time favorite Trojan, he just took over games and he always carried the load. He would just pound away, play after play, never letting up. I made a lot of trips to Pasadena on January 1st growing up; it was something I really looked forward to.
As I got older, I started going to one or two away games every year with whoever I could get to go with me and scalp tickets at the game.
I would go to a big non-conference game every year, I have made trips to Arkansas, Auburn, BYU, Colorado, Florida State, Penn State, the Meadowlands, Notre Dame, and all the Pac 10 schools except WSU and OSU.
I would go to almost every home game and get tickets where ever I could and just sit all over the place. Then in 2001 I attended USC to get a Masters in Tax and was able to get student tickets. I would get to the games the minute the gates opened so I could sit on the 50 yard line; that was a lot of fun.
You grew up in Southern California, and there is something about being a USC fan from Southern California that only a local can understand. How did that experience growing up around USC put you in close and personal contact with the USC Football program?
Growing up in Southern Cal, I had the opportunity to really follow the Trojans. Almost everyone here is either a Trojan fan or a Bruin fan so there is never ending hatred towards the Bruins for me. I just had a discussion with a buddy of mine over which team we hated more, the Bruins or the Irish (he hates the Irish more and I hate the Bruins more). I told him we play the Bruins all the time in everything and I hate losing to them because they are so pathetic in their powder blue uniforms and having to listen to their crap and sporting their Bruin gear around town every once and a while after a big win. The Irish at least have a quality football program so losing to them isn’t as bad as losing to UCLA, I still hate losing to the Irish, but I hate losing to UCLA more.
Also growing up in Southern Cal, I got to watch a lot of games on T.V. and I got to go to a lot of games, and I even got to meet John McKay once. McKay was in Santa Barbara for the opening of an ice cream parlor for an acquaintance of his and he was signing autographs and telling SC stories, I was a little kid but I still remember meeting him like it was yesterday. My youngest son’s middle name is McKay after coach.
You currently live in Ventura County, and as you know the old joke from the old board that no quality football players ever come from V.C. This is not true because Keary Colbert was from Hueneme, for example, but how do you feel about representing and giving some props to football players from V.C...?
I would have to say that the people making those comments are not as well informed as they think they are. I guess Pete Carroll, Charlie Weis and Bobby Bowden don’t know anything about evaluating talent. Some players don’t have things fall into place for them and they miss their opportunity, let’s see how Marc Tyler does, I bet he makes Ventura County look good.
How did you find the USC message boards, and to follow that up, how did you feel when the topics on TFO turned to the lack of fan support in the Coliseum, and grew into the formation of the Herd?
I found TFO along time ago, I want to say around 1998 but I might be wrong but I do remember it was a while ago. I actually remember that they use to have a trivia contest every week and one week I was the winner. I have never felt good about the fan support for the Trojans and I am still not happy about it. The HERD is great and it is a start but the whole stadium should be the HERD section.
I would like to see the support for all the Trojans teams, I just went to a USC-UCLA baseball game and half our stadium was Bruins and they were louder then us and I watched as they swept us at home. It was pathetic, their fans were doing the UCLA spell out and a total of 3 people as far as I could tell were yelling sucks at the end of it each time, me and my 8 year old son Troy and my 5 year old son Ryan McKay. It was so quiet that it was really sad, I felt bad for our team.
I would really like to see the HERD take it to the next level. I know a few people do a lot and they need help. Maybe we all could have some sort of strategy meeting and plan out some dates in advance for next season to help out as many SC programs as we can. I would be more then willing to help and I am sure there a lot more out there that would be willing to go to over events to support the Trojans.
Supporting the football team now is easy; it is the best way to spend a Saturday because they don’t lose at home. Let’s all help some of the other programs not lose either.
What was your first Herd game, and what were your first impressions of the Herd?
For the 2002 season I got seats in the HERD section without asking for them and I figured that I would check out my seats in section 11 then go sit in the Student Section on the 50 yard line because it was no problem getting those seats since I had friends that were still in the Student Sections, but once I stood with the HERD for the first game of 2002, I never left.
Over the past 5 seasons I have had the opportunity to have extra tickets all over the Coliseum and I always let someone else use the tickets because the seats I have are the best in the stadium (with one exception, in the 2005 season I was able to get field passes for the Arizona and lets just say those tickets don’t suck!).
Gugs and various members of his family have been present to tailgates, Herd walks, and of course football games. Of course we saw you and your family at the pre-Huddle Herd walk last weekend. You have young kids, your wife, your father, other members of your family, the USC Football experience is a complete family experience for Gugs. I know your family recently bought a RV, so you didn't get by the Herd tailgate during the 2006 season. Tell us how the Trojan football games have just become a Gugs family gathering point? What has the Trojan experience and the Herd experience meant to your family?
My parents getting the RV was great for our SC football game experiences. We get to the Coliseum early, watch football all day and then take our time heading home. It makes it easy on the kids all day because they can chill in the RV and we park in basically the same location every game so family and friends can stop by all day. I even get to see people at the RV that I haven’t seen for years because no one ever has the time but we all seem to find the time for SC football, so it really is a gathering point for my whole family.
I was really bummed last season when the location for the HERD tailgates moved because we are now parked right across the street from the old location and it would have made it really easy to hang out and see everyone.
You've always been one to offer extra seats at away games. I know you offered Brooks a seat in a luxury box at ASU a few seasons ago. Following up that family question, what has the extended family of the Herd meant to you?
The HERD family is great, it is really special to hang out with everyone and cheer at games, especially away games where we are really out numbered. I believe in standing and yelling and supporting the team all the time and it is great to have others that feel the same way, even in hostile territory. Giving Brooks a ticket in the luxury box for the 2005 ASU game was a no brainer, he is one of the guys that has done a lot of work getting the HERD to where it is now and I was afraid if he had to sit in the sun he would die! I didn’t want something to happen to him and then have to take away the opportunity for future HERDers to say Brooks SUCKS!
There are a few seminal Herd moments; from "We Believe" to Thomas Williams jumping into the stands and Pete Carroll coming up and greeting Herders. Are there any special moments that you remember and feel a strong part of?
Two moments really stand out to me, the first was the Cal game in 2004 and being able to stop them at the end of the game. That to me is how the Coliseum should sound all the time. I think that is the loudest I have ever heard it. The second moment that stands out to me is walking down the Peristyle steps with the team on to the field and then standing on the 50 yard line and listening to Pete tell the team how the HERD was with them from the beginning and how we believed in them when very few did, that was awesome.
What do you see for the Herd as it moves forward? And what are your final thoughts about your Herd experience.
I see the HERD taking over a larger section of the Coliseum and becoming more prominent at other SC sports. I want every home game to be loud and intimidating for the other team and I know it can happen if we work at it.
I love standing with the HERD, it is awesome.
One last thing in closing, my oldest son is 8, his name is Troy, do the math – I have been on board through it all!